Playing Catch-Up

Fern Mallis answers our questions about the most recent episodes of 'The Fashion Show.'

Episode 2: All the Bang, Half the Bucks

Bravotv.com: Which designs stood out the most to you (for better or for worse)?
The outfit that still stays with me is Anna's purple straight skirt with the high waist and layers of  horizontal pleats  with the sleeveless chiffon blouse.... It was elegant, looked very expensive, and was perfect for a "ladies lunch"... and the worst was the dress designed by Laura, who was eliminated.

Her black dress was almost alright, but the additional details just ruined it — from the tacky red tulle ruffle at the hem, to the silly mesh netting on the back. What was too bad was later learning that she had been advised by all of her teammates to remove both of those elements and she still didn't.

Bravotv.com: What do you think the key to winning this challenge was? What’s the biggest challenge when working on a budget?
The key to winning is to accomplish the task. To please both the audience, the judges and in this case to get Tinsley's endorsement that she'd wear the outfit right away. When working on a tight budget it's always best to stay simple and more minimal — trying to add too many details only makes it look cheaper. Also fabric selection makes a big difference ....

Bravotv.com: What were the judges looking for for each “look” (the events Tinsley was attending)?
We were looking for outfits that fit the specific events and activities, which were a range of NY social events ... gallery opening, film event, luncheon, rock concert, and charity benefit. We were also hoping that each team would work closely enough together so that it looked like a collection that one person would buy. Each event required a very different design and attitude, and we were looking for the appropriate solutions. In fact, Kelly could have also been used as a model for these same types of events ... and if they had designed looks that Kelly would have worn to each of these functions, I bet it would also have pleased Tinsley.

Bravotv.com: When dressing a socialite like Tinsley, what should the designers really be focusing on?
I realize some of the designers were at a disadvantage if they didn't live or work in NYC, and weren't familiar with Tinsley and her very public and often photographed social life. However, she did meet them all in the workroom before the challenge, and they had a quick chance to sum up her looks, size, and the aura she conveyed, which is often as much time as a designer gets when meeting a client!

Episode 3: Trick Up Your Sleeve

Bravotv.com: Which designs stood out the most to you (for better or for worse)?
The coat I personally liked the best was Lidia's pale turquoise rain coat, with the fanned, boned collar. It looked like Botticelli"s "Venus Rising" to me .... It was a color that I would be happy to wear in inclement weather, and while the collar was not quite an umbrella, it was an interesting idea which I believe with a bit more realistic time frame could have been resolved a little better. I also liked the dress that was underneath and zipped around the inner arm holes to separate from the outer coat of plastic coated fabric ....

Bravotv.com: What is your philosophy in terms of fashion vs. function?
It depends ... on some occasions I can allow fashion to trump function and vice versa. However, weather is one category where function is way more important than fashion. If staying warm and safe is necessary, I'm not sure looking great is as important.

Bravotv.com: If you could have someone design a coat based on your needs, what would it have?
I'd like a coat to provide warmth, without being heavy or bulky, and to be designed with a flattering silhouette to look slim. Pockets are also extremely important — both for keeping hands warm, and to put some essentials that you always need at your fingertips such as gloves, a phone or Blackberry, keys, and perhaps some mad money!

Bravotv.com: Andrew and Daniella got into a scuffle over Andrew supposedly stealing Daniella’s design. What was your take on the whole situation?
I am not privy to the behind-the-scenes dynamics, and only see what I see on the runway.  As teams working together, it is clear that some leaders and team members share their ideas and give advice to their teammates. I think if Andrew had been the least bit grateful and acknowledged that Daniella was very helpful with some of her suggestions, he would have looked like a bigger, better designer and she would have been acknowledged and happy.  Giving some recognition and thanks goes a long way instead of Andrew looking and sounding meek, and Daniella being pissed and ultimately thinking she will no longer help anyone else out.

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